Question about amount of smoke

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Original poster
Dec 8, 2010
Near Gettysburg
Hi all, I just finished building a smokehouse out of scrap lumber pallets I had. Not very pretty, but it was free!!!  Problem is, I may need to move it b/c prevailing breeze is pushing smoke out of the pit, not up the flue.  How much smoke is not enough? In other words, inside the smokehouse is a haze of smoke, it just seems most smoke is wasted being blown out of the pit (see Pictures)  If I move it (pain in the butt) I think It would solve the problem, I tried covering the firepit with cement board (see pictures) Is it such a thing as "wasting too much smoke"? Possum-Pie
I have read other places in the forum about thin blue smoke,I think that I am getting too big a pile of coals and too much smoke. I guess I will use less wood, I am using Apple wood b/c I have 3 cords of it for my fireplace.  It was 20 degrees today, I think most of the white was from moisture steaming off when the wood got hot.  When it settled down, it was a nice hazy almost invisible smoke.    Possum-Pie
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Did you include a flue in the top of the smokehouse?  If you have smoke coming out the firepit like in pic 2 i'm thinking you don't have enough draft.
Yea, two one in each side of the top.  Thing is, Maybe the angle of incline from firepit to smokehouse is too shallow, but my gut says the prevailing breeze is coming from exactly the wrong direction. I used 6 inch metal pipe for the run from fire to house, that should be big enough.
Started it up yesterday, got it smokin steady light smoke, put a pound of cheap store bacon in and left it for 4 hours.   It turned out great!!! no bitterness, turned a package of generic bacon into gormet!!! I still need to think about  turning the whole contraption around to face into the breeze.  I can't wait to try something bigger.

Also if you are worried about all the smoke escaping you may want to try and seal all of those cracks up that way the draft should work better and it should come in the bottom of the smoker and exit out of the top. It looks like a lot of cracks but if you buy some high temp food grade silicone it would be pretty easy to seal them. But then again your smoker will look pretty ugly with all of that red caulking on there. What temps can you hold the smoker at? Are you doing mostly cold smoking or are you doing both hot and cold smoking? If you are cold smoking only you probably won't have an issue with the cracks leaking out your smoke because it really wouldn't matter too much as long as it is giving your adequate smoke flavor on your meat. But if you are trying to hold higher temps you may have issues with all of your heat escaping out of the cracks.
I tried to cold smoke this weekend.  Outside air was 21 degrees.  Inside the smoker at its warmest was 41 degrees.  There are alot of cracks and crevices, I have nailed pieces over the biggest ones.  The bacon turned out great, but I am not going to try an expensive salmon yet until I am sure it will turn out.  The firepit is lined with fireplace brick, and I built a teepee fire and added apple chips and chunks after it burned down.  Got nice smoke, but any slight breeze blew it out of the pit not up the flue.  Cement board on the top kept some breeze out.  I think the 6 foot run of flue keeps the smoke mellow by the time it gets to the smoker.  I just don't want to waste more chips than necessary, especially when I buy pecan or other more expensive woods.   I think I understand now that you actually don't want billowing white smoke pouring out of the smokehouse, the light blue hazy smoke is more what I should be after.  I am more concerned with how it will preform when I put a whole sholder of butt in there.  
I would think if you are going to Hot smoke, you may have to put a heat sorce in the shack.

Yep I agree I think you are going to have trouble getting the temps up high enough especially with all of those cracks. Maybe do a trial run and see how high you can get the temps in the smoker. If you temps aren't around 225 try and seal the cracks or put a heat source in the smoker.
Well, for hot smoking, i lined the inside floor of the actual smokehouse with fireplace bricks.  I can build a fire in a metal pan on the floor, and temps should be more compatible with hot smoking.  I have firebrick going up several high around the walls which should retain the heat. I guess I will test that out next.  I am trying to keep it all electricity/propane free, partly because of cost, partly b/c God forbid the economy falls apart, I have a way to preserve meat without access to electricity or gas.  I am not a paranoid survivalist, but I see some very scary things happening in the country.
Update:  I didn't move the smoker, but I chinked every little crack in the back and discovered that that improved the draft 100% Seems the breeze was hitting the back of the smoke house and seeping through the cracks just enough to not allow smoke in.  My bacon and Chedder cheese turned out wonderful.  Definitely allow the cheese to mellow in the frige for a week, it improved the taste.  Took it to Christmas dinner, now have orders from family members for more chedder, smoked swiss, and even an order for smoked parmesan cheese!! 
I would recommend sealing up the fire pit a bit better.  I poured concrete slabs then attached them together with mortar.  I am using WonderBoard to cover the front of the pit.  This way I can adjust how much air enters the fire pit.   You don't need a wide open front to get enough draft to give you good smoke.    So first thing I would do is seal up some of those cracks.   If only cold smoking in the smokehouse you could just jamb some newspaper or rags into the cracks between your pallet wood.

The idea is to limit where the smoke can exit.  Once you get some heat going a draft will start up and the smoke will actually be pulled from the fire pit out through the dampers in the smoke house.  If the smoke can leak out anywhere along the route you will not get enough draft to keep the fire going and the amount of smoke passing over the meat is limited.

Good Luck.

Thanks about the suggestion for the firepit. I have already decided to mortar it up when I get the chance, I just threw some firebrick in a pit in a hurry to try it out.  My goal is a slow smoky smolder where I can control the Oxygen better. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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